Award-winning playwright Eric Lane's Ride might not be the best-written show at the Fringe, but you'll never notice as this trio of high-school performers from Trinity Prep takes you on a journey to remember, rolling abusive parents, adultery, death, Anne Frank and almost every emotion known to adolescent girls — and that would be, hmm, all of them — into one fast-paced and often hilarious road trip of a show.
Graduating senior Olivia Van Den Berg smolders as Molly, a beautiful if slightly scary child of privilege who bears the scars of neglect and worse; fellow graduating senior Allison Cooper is her sensible, plain-Jane counterpart Carrie, who has never really recovered from the death of her beloved father and can't escape her incapable mom. Carrie is caught up in Molly's scheme to out her father's extra-marital affair, and Ride begins in earnest, rapidly picking up speed from there. But it's 14-year-old Madeline Walker, a Fringe veteran, who steals the show as Sam, Carrie's wickedly smart and deeply weird 11-year-old sister who's accidentally swept up in Ride.
Each of these young actresses is entirely believable in her role — just like girls this age you know but smarter, braver and funnier. Cooper has the hardest, and largest, part, making something of uneven periodic asides that break the narrative — hilariously interrupted at least once — but she pulls it off and rises above the occasionally leaden material. (A note for parents: This show contains strong — reeeallly strong — language throughout.)
Ride benefits hugely from the direction of Trinity theater teacher Janine Papin, well-known to Orlando theatergoers as a performer in her own right. But it's really the talent and heart displayed by its cast that makes Ride a great bet this Fringe. I laughed, I cried. Bravo, ladies. Bravo!
60 minutes, Green Venue, $8, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.